When you assign a lease, you move out permanently and a new tenant moves in for the remainder of the lease term. An assignment of a lease differs from a sublet. With a sublet, the original tenant gives up an apartment temporarily. With an assignment, the original tenant gives up the apartment permanently.26
The person to whom you assign your lease is referred to as the "assignee." Both you and the assignee remain responsible to the landlord for the obligations contained in the lease.27 As the original tenant, you can escape such responsibilities only if the landlord clearly releases you from them.28
To be valid, an assignment must be in writing.29 While your lease may say that you need the landlord's permission to assign, many leases also state that the landlord cannot unreasonably deny her consent. If this is the case, the landlord cannot unreasonably deny you permission to assign.30
Where a lease does not specifically prohibit a landlord from unreasonably denying consent, she can deny her consent for any reason. If a lease forbids assignment, you assign anyway, and the landlord objects to it, the landlord can terminate your lease.31 If you then move out, the landlord will have a duty to make reasonable efforts to find a new tenant. If the landlord attempts to sue you for any rent or costs she has incurred because of your breach of the lease, you can argue that you had a person willing to take over the lease who could have paid the landlord the rent. Also, even if you do not get the landlord's permission before assigning the lease, if the landlord knowingly accepts rent from the assignee, then she is probably required to accept the assignment.32
If you are moving out, you should also arrange with the landlord to get your security deposit back if you paid one. See Chapter 3: Security Deposits and Last Month's Rent.
What is the difference between a sublet, lease assignment, and a lease break?
If you need to exit your lease early and your landlord allows you to find another tenant, you should ask your landlord how he or she prefers to structure the new lease. Does your landlord prefer the new tenant to finish out the remaining term of your lease or does the landlord prefer you to end your lease and find a new tenant to start a brand new lease.
If the landlord would prefer the new tenant to finish out the term on your lease , then you will need to find a short term renter assuming your remaining lease term is less than 12 months, which it usually is. You will then need to know from your landlord if he or she would prefer you to find someone to “sublet” your place, or would the landlord prefer you find someone to “assign” the remaining portion of your lease to. Here are the definitions:
Sublet: The incoming tenant will be your “subtenant” and will pay the rent to you. You would still be responsible for fulfilling your obligations under the lease. You are still responsible for paying the rent to the landlord.
Lease Assignment: The incoming tenant would be “assigned” your current lease. The relationship with your landlord will end, and the new tenant will be responsible for the terms of the lease and will pay rent directly to the landlord.
Leasebreak: If your landlord prefers you to end your lease early (essentially “breaking your lease”) then your relationship would end with your landlord, and the new tenant would sign a brand new lease , usually for at least 12 months.
On Leasebreak.com, tenant, agents, and landlords post sublets, lease assignments, and “lease breaks”. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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